February 4, 2015 Kix rock face off Whiskey a Go Go West Hollywood, CA 1-15-15
During the 1980s, the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California, was hopping with the up and coming Rock/Metal bands that defined the era. With boozes, ladies, and raunchy Rock-n-Roll, it was a historic period in the timeline of music that no one will soon forget. Separating themselves from the pack, Maryland based band Kix stuck with their home base rather than uproot and ship out to the west coast, making them a standout in an oversaturated scene. Achieving platinum status with their fourth studio album, Blow My Fuse, in 1988, the band had solidified themselves in the mainstream for years afterwards. After nearly a decade of silence, Kix returned in the early 2000s to perform live again, but it was not until 2014 when the band put out their seventh studio album, Rock Your Face Off, marking their first since 1995’s $how Bu$ine$$. A surprising comeback, Rock Your Face Off has been received extremely well by fans and critics, proving the wait was well worth it. Now, in support of the album, Kix return to the road in 2015 to bring their always exciting live show to audiences across the USA. Their stop at Sunset Strip on Thursday, January 15th, landed them at the world famous Whiskey a Go Go, and Kix was ready to satisfy their passionate followers.
Getting the wheel spinning early, local acts Snyper, The Hard Way, and Gutterfish followed one another, opening the show. Snyper are a relatively young band that is making their way, and, judging by their performance, they have something going. Next, The Hard Way consisted of Eric Jeffreys (vocals), Joe Drock (Lead Guitar), Tim Luce (Bass), John Huldt (Guitar), and Bobby Rock (Drums). Regulars on the strip who have performed with the likes of Michael Schenker (UFO), Stephen Pearcy (RATT), Faster Pussycat, Bulletboys, Enuff Znuff, Great White, and Michael Monroe (Hanoi Rocks), among others, the band put on an energized set of original tunes. As the last of the supporting bands, Gutterfish consists of J.T. Hurt (guitar/vocals), Roger McCarty (guitar), Greg Fernandez (bass/vocals), and Robert Curnutte (drums). Having a good time and keeping the audience rocking, they were a fitting appetizer before the night’s main event.
After a few drinks and friendly conversation, Whiskey a Go Go filled out relatively quickly for a Thursday evening, as many spectators were ready to start the weekend early. What better way to jumpstart the end of the week than with Kix! Reunited with guitarists Brian “Damage” Forsythe and Ronnie “10/10” Younkins, vocalist Steve Whiteman, drummer Jimmy “Chocolate” Chalfant rocked the house, while bassist Mark Schenker fit nicely in place of Donnie Purnell. Not skipping a beat while still providing the same unchained energy they always had, each member walked out to a roar of praise as they jumped right into “Can’t Stop the Show,” a new song for the band. Overjoyed to be rocking, they quickly rewound back to 1985 and had everyone percolating during a rambunctious performance of “Sex.” With Younkins and Forsythe on each side of the stage ripping through the guitar riffs, Whitman stood dead center stage, hopping around and connecting with fans as he belted out his signature vocals. Keeping the old and new mix coming, 1988’s “No Ring Around Rosie,” was followed by “You’re Gone,” “The Itch,” and “Wheels in Motion,” before things got too hot and they gave the room a “Cold Shower.” Exhilarated to have some fresh, new tunes to jam out to, the audience was thrilled with the set, and some whom had admittedly not heard Rock Your Face Off yet were ready to grab themselves a copy.
Having already covered so much ground in the first forty-five minutes of the performance, the cheers erupted when the distinguished mix of keyboards and guitar opened up into classic hit, “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” As Whiteman sang full heartedly, the audience joined in, screaming along with the chorus. Those who were not singing along were breaking out their cellphones to grab a quick video to share with friends or keep for their own memories. Clearly a high point in a set full of excitement, Kix put the pedal to the metal, continuing with some of their most beloved tunes, including “Hot Wire,” “Love Me With Your Top Down,” and “Cold Blood.” Wrapping up the set with “Blow My Fuse,” Whiteman danced and let it all hang out as the band sounded as tight then as at any point that evening, and fans showed appreciation by wagging metal horns in the air. Asking for more with whistles, clapping, and yelling, Kix responded, jolting back for “Midnight Dynamite.” Showing stamina, their enthusiasm was high and the night officially wound down with Forsythe singing the final song, “Yeah, Yeah Yeah,” and giving a killer display of finger work on the guitar. It was raw, pure Rock-n-Roll at its best and this audience loved every minute of it.
Kix continue to show they are no novelty act and these guys can still rock with the best of them. What is great about Kix is they were never truly part of the Glam Metal scene that swallowed so many talented bands. They stuck to their own traditional form of Rock-n-Roll. Perhaps tha is why, all these years later, their music, both new and old, still sounds relatively fresh to audiences of all ages. Fishing their west coast run, they will now return to the east coast for a handful of shows throughout the early spring, before they sail off on the Monsters of Rock Cruise on April 18th.Photo credit: Diane Gallemore